EastEnders actress Danielle Harold has said portraying her character’s brain tumour diagnosis and subsequent cancer treatment storyline has been a “massive responsibility”.
The BBC One soap recently saw Lola Pearce, played by 30-year-old Harold, receive a heart-breaking glioblastoma multiforme diagnosis.
Speaking on The One Show about portraying the sensitive storyline, Harold said: “It’s been a massive responsibility to be given this storyline by the show, just because it’s affected so many people.
“Especially me starting the story, I didn’t realise just how many that it does (affect) and just how little awareness there is and just how little funding there actually is for brain tumour research as well.
“So to touch on this story, it really means a lot to me and the show.”
Last week viewers of the soap witnessed an emotional scene during which the normally outgoing beautician Lola was told by a doctor that she was suffering from the notoriously aggressive form of cancer and would need to undergo an operation imminently.
Viewers have since followed Lola’s story and witnessed her family, including her young daughter Lexi, attempting to come to terms with her diagnosis.
Harold has played Lola, the granddaughter of Billy Mitchell, since 2011 and has previously been at the centre of hard-hitting storylines including a teenage pregnancy.
Harold went on to tell hosts Jermaine Jenas and Alex Jones: “With a diagnosis like this it doesn’t just affect the person, it massively affects the whole family around that person as well.
“So it’s just so important for us to show all those different dynamics in a disease like that and the families at home and children dealing with it.
“And I’ve got a little one in it as well, so to show her side of things, to deal with it as a child, is just so important as well, and it’s just been amazing to see that all come together.”
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In October EastEnders announced it was working with two leading cancer charities – Brain Tumour Research and Macmillan Cancer Support – to ensure Lola’s storyline is portrayed as sensitively and realistically as possible.
According to research carried out by Brain Tumour Research, brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
Lola’s future remains uncertain given that the average prognosis for glioblastoma is very short, with many patients given a little as 12 to 18 months to live.
Treatment options for the cancer are very limited and there is currently no cure. According to Brain Tumour Research, only 25% of patients diagnosed with the cancer survive for longer than a year.
Lola’s storyline continues in EastEnders on BBC One.